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Category: India

End of the ‘Age of Voters’

I remember, during one election, my father returned from polling booth. I recently had become politically enthu. My mom & I kept asking him that which party did he vote too. He said this is called ‘gupt matdaan’ which means the vote is kept secret and hence why should he share with us that which party did he vote to. We guessed that perhaps he voted BJP dude but we never became sure where did his vote go. When he was politically active, he had friends in all major parties. Most of the times, 2-3 candidates used to be his friends, even the independent ones. During elections, we always had visit from all of candidates multiple times. His friend candidates would stay at home, even those from major parties. He sometimes accompanied their caravan and when he did, he did for all of them. We always had a big box of election campaign materials at home – flags, docs, banners, pamphlets, etc. Sometimes, in childhood, I would like some of flags and would intend to put the flag in house. He always scolded me and never let me do so. I have been very close to my father and I can tell you most of things about his political, social, religious views BUT I can’t tell you which party did he vote to in which election due to the clout, confusion & secrecy he created. I compare that to now, the people of today, here on twitter and elsewhere. Everything is so widely known that you can bet on your life that which party will 1 vote to. You know it about every1 via themselves In a way, I guess, the ‘age of voters’ is dead, ‘age of supporters’ is fading fast and we are now into the ‘age of political activists’ Everyone is an activist of one political party or politician. Only thing left is, perhaps, a valid membership of the party to verify it And people are not official members due to perhaps – either they don’t know how to become or they are too lazy to do that. Just that.

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The Hunger Cafe

Mumbai Journal of New York Times reports:

The world is filled with eating houses of every kind, from hamburger joints to three-star restaurants. There are places you drive through and places where you sit down. But the world may be unfamiliar with a Mumbai variation on the theme: the hunger cafe.

The hunger cafes have stood for decades on a stretch of road in the Mahim neighborhood. Mumbai’s broken, drifting men squat in neat rows in front of each establishment, waiting patiently. Vats full of food simmer behind the doors. What separates them from the food is the 25-cent-per-plate cost — a gulf harder to bridge than one might assume. But every so often, a car pulls up and makes a donation, and the men dine.


Among the swelling middle class, anonymous, checkbook-style charity has yet to catch on. Indians have shown scant enthusiasm for giving to abstract causes. Indian charity is feudal charity: making donations to those below you in your household chain of command. And so, to bring these men indoors with the notion of safeguarding their dignity would risk their starvation, in the calculation of the restaurateurs. They believe the men must be exhibited like this, sunken and sad-eyed. They must gaze at passers-by with that obedient, mournful, reverential stare that well-born Indians have learned to expect. They must be advertisements for their own cause.

Image source: New York Times

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